See more synonyms for vulgar on
  1. characterized by ignorance of or lack of good breeding or taste: vulgar ostentation.
  2. indecent; obscene; lewd: a vulgar work; a vulgar gesture.
  3. crude; coarse; unrefined: a vulgar peasant.
  4. of, relating to, or constituting the ordinary people in a society: the vulgar masses.
  5. current; popular; common: a vulgar success; vulgar beliefs.
  6. spoken by, or being in the language spoken by, the people generally; vernacular: vulgar tongue.
  7. lacking in distinction, aesthetic value, or charm; banal; ordinary: a vulgar painting.
  1. Archaic. the common people.
  2. Obsolete. the vernacular.

Origin of vulgar

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin vulgāris, equivalent to vulg(us) the general public + -āris -ar1
Related formsvul·gar·ly, adverbvul·gar·ness, nounun·vul·gar, adjectiveun·vul·gar·ly, adverbun·vul·gar·ness, noun

Synonyms for vulgar

See more synonyms for on

Synonym study

1. See common.

Usage note

Terms that are labeled Vulgar in this dictionary are considered inappropriate in many circumstances because of their association with a taboo subject. Major taboo subjects in English-speaking countries are sex and excretion and the parts of the body associated with those functions. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for vulgar

Contemporary Examples of vulgar

Historical Examples of vulgar

  • To play upon the silver-voiced flute is Theban-like and vulgar.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • She was quite unable to repress a vulgar interest in the menials that served her.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • You wouldn't believe the vulgar things Harry would say out of pure fun!

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • He was vulgar with a vulgarity that went miles deeper than that of the major.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • She says they're vulgar for an innocent country girl like her cousin, Agnes Lynch.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

British Dictionary definitions for vulgar


  1. marked by lack of taste, culture, delicacy, manners, etcvulgar behaviour; vulgar language
  2. (often capital; usually prenominal) denoting a form of a language, esp of Latin, current among common people, esp at a period when the formal language is archaic and not in general spoken use
  3. archaic
    1. of, relating to, or current among the great mass of common people, in contrast to the educated, cultured, or privileged; ordinary
    2. (as collective noun; preceded by the)the vulgar
Derived Formsvulgarly, adverb

Word Origin for vulgar

C14: from Latin vulgāris belonging to the multitude, from vulgus the common people
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for vulgar

late 14c., "common, ordinary," from Latin vulgaris "of or pertaining to the common people, common, vulgar," from vulgus "the common people, multitude, crowd, throng," from PIE root *wel- "to crowd, throng" (cf. Sanskrit vargah "division, group," Greek eilein "to press, throng," Middle Breton gwal'ch "abundance," Welsh gwala "sufficiency, enough"). Meaning "coarse, low, ill-bred" is first recorded 1640s, probably from earlier use (with reference to people) with meaning "belonging to the ordinary class" (1530).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper